Our inner cynic tells us to cut the conversation short: Valentine’s Day is capitalism’s way of exploiting our connections; a heteronormative capitalist holiday that could very well not exist. Most of the images remind us how much the heterosexual, mostly white, able-bodied couples – who are perfect the way they are – are mutual in love through a material gift. What’s more, it bothers us to see for Valentine’s Day the shops decked out in red hearts, the cards with the cheesiest phrases, the florists preparing for the most profitable marathon of the year. There is a business that washes the consciences of careless lovers and fills the wallets of the sugar chain of consumerism.
But is that all? Do we have to give up on mere cynicism?
Because whether we like it or not, love is in the air. And, without lapsing into trite rhetoric, it should always be. Let’s try, therefore, to redefine Valentine’s Day, showing how it can become a holiday in which we demonstrate how love ourselves, our partner, a multitude of soul mates, our friends, our elective and/or biological family, or accepting to feel none, are all equally valid feelings. As Emma Watson reminds us, describing herself as self-partnered rather than single, our relationship with ourselves is also a relationship, and it is equally important to feed and care for it.
While we do not desist from wanting to leave Valentine’s Day to cynicism, we are not willing to leave it to the heteronormative world either. We refer to that kind of romanticism, for instance, that leads us to believe that there is a soul mate who will complete us perfectly and that the only true love would then be the one that lasts forever and needs no explanation. We have all learned that our current partner will probably not love us happily ever after for who we are and will not understand us without the need to communicate. Relationships are about accommodation, compromise, and sacrifice. Life takes on wonderful, complex forms, and so do relationships, which are a constant adjustment, the challenge is to stay on board as long as it is worth it.
Another question not to leave everything to the major social system is: so, do most of us live in the monogamous relationship system because we really feel it or because we have been taught that this is how it should be? Do we know the alternatives?
Polyamory, Ethical Non-Monogamy, or Relationship Anarchy? What are the differences?
Those are today’s complex shapes of romantic relationships based on freedom, self-determination, and honesty. There is no such thing as a model to follow, the one we are all most used to, based on standards, the only one dominant and accepted model for loving relationships. Remember: love is copious and every relationship is unique! The spectrum has definitely expanded, following are definitions that may help bring clarity.
Polyamory, is an umbrella term and is the practice of engaging in multiple romantic (and typically sexual) relationships, with the consent of all the people involved. Also, polyamory has its specific structures – some require prioritising one person over another, but others not so much.
Ethical Non-Monogamy (ENM), also known as consensual non-monogamy (CNM), is an approach to relationships wherein people can have more than one romantic or sexual partner at a time, and everybody involved is aware and enthusiastically consents to the dynamic.
Relationship Anarchy rejects the idea of a romantic sex-based relationship hierarchy and doesn’t quite fit into one of the previous structures or the other.
We can conclude that it is more important to love with respect than to necessarily seek labels. But if these titles feel more like entitles and make us feel valued and welcomed, then let us take what we deserve. Our encouragement is to celebrate a healthy love, towards ourselves and our nexts. Or we could try to use Valentine’s day to consolidate every relationship in our lives, friendship or romantic level, starting from a solid common base: trust, solidarity, communication, empathy
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Are you desperately waiting to meet your soulmate and live happily ever after? Neither are we. That’s why this year we’re not celebrating Valentine’s Day but crushing Cupid’s dreams. The commodification of our private and romantic lives is something we should resist. Especially because it is accompanied by widely spread normative values that deny the countless ways of loving that exist. Let’s celebrate queerness, ethical non-monogamy, friendship and self-love. Together we counter the persistent ideal of a successful love life. Sign up for free right here!